Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cyber-Harassment Trial Found No Proof of 'Emotional Distress'

Your thoughts, readers? -- EOPC

by Shane Anthony

Jurors who acquitted a St. Peters woman in a cyber-harassment case said prosecutors failed to prove a 17-year-old girl suffered emotional distress when the woman posted her information in a sexually suggestive Craigslist ad.

On Thursday, the jury of seven women and five men found Elizabeth Thrasher, 41, not guilty of felony harassment for making the post after she and the teenager exchanged a series of insults on MySpace. Attorneys said this was the first case to go to trial since the state Legislature passed a cyber-harassment law in 2008 in the wake of Dardenne Prairie teenager Megan Meier's suicide.

Jury foreman John Seifert said Friday that all the jurors believed the state had proven all but one element of its case against Thrasher — that the girl had suffered emotional distress.

"We really felt for her," Seifert said. "She made this claim, but we felt like there wasn't any evidence that supported the claim."

The state was required to prove seven elements of the crime. Juror Christine Cundiff said jurors agreed unanimously that prosecutors proved six. But they didn't believe the girl's testimony was proof enough that she had suffered emotional distress, she said.

"We felt the charge of a felony was extremely serious to send someone to prison when we were not 100 percent guilty on all seven (elements)," Cundiff said.

The spat between Thrasher and the girl erupted on May 1, 2009. Thrasher had a conflict with the girl's mother, who was dating Thrasher's ex-husband.

After the two exchanged insults over MySpace, Thrasher used information from the girl's MySpace account to create a sexually suggestive Craigslist ad under the "Casual Encounters" section. The posting featured the girl's photos, cell phone number, e-mail address and the restaurant where she worked.

The girl testified that after the Craigslist post, she started receiving text messages, pictures and phone calls from men. One came to the restaurant looking for her and was asked to leave by the manager, she said.

The girl said she eventually quit her job. She testified she was afraid of being raped and killed.

Prosecutors also called two police investigators to testify, but jurors said they wanted to hear from someone else who could corroborate the girl's testimony about distress.

"Anybody that could have taken the stand and said this is what I've noticed about the young lady," Seifert said.

St. Charles County Prosecutor Jack Banas said he had not thought other witnesses were needed. (note: Banas was the Prosecutor in the Megan Meier case.)

"We didn't feel it was necessary to go on any further to prove what comes out of her mouth based on the assumption that most people would be distressed to have their personal information put on Craigslist," he said.

Thrasher's attorney, Mike Kielty, said the law is flawed.

"It criminalizes behavior that, but for the medium, wouldn't be criminal."


Dating Disasters Exposed said...

this is disgusting!!!
that girl could have been hurt...what does it take to find her address on the internet being that nothing is private today and the insane women plastered her personal info on the net...i feel so bad after reading this and the woman aka pervert should be ashamed of herself of doing this especially she is an adult...i know the feeling...i could not do nothing with my stalker/cyberbully, and he is still out there, still stalking and abusing me till this very day...i had to change my blogger to private b/c the nut found me here too and started commenting and copying my journals and posting bad things about them on the net...it's sad that the only time the law takes action, is when someone get's psychically hurt or killed and then what???...it's too freaking late, when the warning signs were made...there should be strict laws enforced on this matter...cyberbullying/stalking can place stress, fear, depression and isolation on the victim...it's no joke...this shouldn't be taken lightly...how many innocent kids killed themselves due to cyberbullies...their needs to be a permanent strict law on this garbage! unfortunatley, it only counts when it's one of their own...average people don't have enough power to change the system nor do we count...

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